Choking death prompts bracelet campaign
The grieving parents of a 13-year-old boy who died playing the "choking game" have launched a bracelet campaign to prevent similar deaths.
"We weren't aware," said Jerry Daviau, as he recounts what happened to his son Jesse last October.
The family had moved back to Monastery, a small community in northeast Nova Scotia, the previous month after three years overseas.
"He was coming back to his school, to his friends," said Daviau. "He was so happy.
But two weeks after they arrived, on Oct. 7, 2005, they found Jesse dead in his room. The teenager had hanged himself from his bunk bed with a belt.
"When Jerry lifted up his body, the belt fell from the bed. It wasn't tied," said June, Jesse's mother.
The Daviaus say their son was playing "the choking game," the name given to the practice of cutting off the oxygen and blood flow to the brain to feel a brief high.
There are variations to the game, with some children choking themselves or each other until they pass out. Those who do it say it's highly addictive.
"It's a quick high," said June Daviau.
The Daviaus say Jesse had once asked about the game and even heard about it on a television talk show about a week before his death.
But neither Jesse's parents nor his closest friends had any idea what he was up to.
"I actually never heard of it until after his death," said Melissa Decoste, a friend of Jesse's at East Antigonish Education Centre/Academy in Monastery.
The Daviaus decided they needed to spread the word about it and chose the latest fashion trend — bracelets — to carry their message.
"If the kids wear bracelets that say 'Stop the choking game,' maybe they won't do it. Maybe they will make a promise just by putting it on," said June Daviau.
The message is spreading far and fast.
In just a few days, the Daviaus have sold about 1,600 bracelets within the school and to friends and supporters around the world. The money raised from the bracelets will be used to create a scholarship at Jesse's school.
"We think that our little boy is spreading his love one bracelet at a time and saving lives," said June Daviau.